I explained in this article why I think Pinterest is one of the best platforms for handmade businesses.
If you haven’t read that article yet, you should have a quick look so you understand how your Pinterest account, boards, and pins can help get you on the first page of Google (and why the first page of Google is a big deal).
That article explains WHY your handmade business should be on Pinterest to drive traffic to your Etsy shop or your website.
This article explains WHAT to pin to Pinterest to increase your chances of getting on the first page of Google, getting your product pins re-pinned, and getting people to click on those pins to visit your Etsy shop or website.
THINK OF PINTEREST FIRST
As mentioned in this article, Pinterest is always looking out for their typical user’s interest.
It’s a visual platform where photos drive what people pin.
The typical Pinterest user is hopping on the platform, mostly, to be inspired. They want to browse pins that give them inspiration for:
- Decorating their house
- Crafts to make for the holidays
- What to wear for fall to stay on trend
- Colors and décor for their wedding
- Gift ideas (for themselves and others)
They are NOT thinking:
I’m gonna hop on Pinterest to see what type of products and services businesses want to sell me. I LOVE being sold to and I LOVE spending my money!
Pinterest knows this and is creating algorithms that weed out pins that are strictly promotional and not as interesting to the typical user.
*Of course, you can get your promotional pins into people’s feeds by paying Pinterest to promote them.
The most basic way Pinterest recognizes if a pin is useful and inspiring to the typical user is based on how many re-pins and clicks the pin gets. So the easiest way for your pins to be seen by more people is to create pins that are liked and clicked on.
Easier said than done, right?
Here are some tips…
WHAT NOT TO PIN TO GET YOUR HANDMADE PRODUCTS NOTICED
I’m assuming you’re a Pinterest user and have used the platform for personal purposes.
What type of content do you pin?
Personally, very, very rarely do I pin product images.
I’m not going to Pinterest to shop.
I’m logging into Pinterest to get ideas, BEFORE I shop.
I’m not ready to buy. I don’t know what I want to buy. That’s why I’m checking out Pinterest.
This is extremely important to understand when it comes to your Pinterest strategy.
Posting straight-up product posts (e.g. a photo of your product on a white background) is like a car sales associate saying: “Step into my office, let’s sign some papers so you can buy a car right now” when you’ve just started looking at cars and have just stepped foot in their dealership.
You don’t know what type of car you want yet. You haven’t decided on a specific make of car, let alone the model.
You’re heading in to see what they have to offer and have 10 more dealerships and test-drives before you’re ready to sign an offer.
That sales associate needs to make you feel comfortable so you let your guard down.
A product pin makes Pinterest users put their guard UP… it’s sort of like asking them to buy something before they’ve been inspired.
When their guard is up, they’re less likely to re-pin or click on the pin and visit your website.
So what’s the right type of pin?
Let me explain…
THE RIGHT TYPE OF PIN FOR YOUR HANDMADE BUSINESS
If Pinterest users are logging on to be inspired, your pins must inspire them.
Yes, it takes a bit more work, but it will be worth it.
Typically, a product, standing on its own, does not inspire people.
If it did, TV commercials would simply be a shot of a product. No voiceovers explaining the features, no beautiful videography, no storyline, etc.
We all need a little help imagining a product in its setting.
- How will that top look on and where would I wear it?
- How big are those earrings and what would I wear them with?
- What type of person and skin-type is this lotion for and how is it going to make my skin look? *Don’t get into any claims that turn your cosmetic product into a drug product. Click here to see what I mean
- What type of home would this art look good in? Which room would I hang it in?
- I like this candle set for Thanksgiving, but what else would I put on the table to make a festive atmosphere/setting?
If you want your products to get noticed on Pinterest, your pins CANNOT just be about the products.
Your pins must inspire people and a product photo alone won’t do that. Paint a bigger picture around your products.
THE EXTRA STEP YOU NEED TO TAKE
And this is the step so many small business owners won’t take, because it does require much more effort.
Zoom out from your product; what’s the bigger picture?
- Who’s using/wearing/displaying/etc. it?
- Where are they doing so?
- How are they doing so?
- What time of year is it?
- What else or who else is present?
I do understand that snapping photos of your products is enough work as is, but taking the extra steps to paint the full picture will really make a huge difference…if done properly.
Go the extra mile and paint the right picture in a quality way.
This world appreciates quality.
Take a look at the pins that show up at the top of your feed (click the Pinterest logo in the top right corner to get to your home feed). Or head to Instagram and look at the suggested posts under the search icon, or check out round-up articles of awesome accounts to follow (like this article).
These posts and accounts didn’t get to where they are by quickly snapping a photo.
>> Their photos are thoughtfully planned.
>> They tell a story.
>> They make you stop and dissect the photo, figure out the story, or try and understand why you like the photo so much.
>> They’re high-quality photos; great lighting, high definition, pleasing composition, etc.
Do you have to take this extra step?
Of course not.
But it is the difference between creating a business that’s taken seriously, gets attention, and makes more than a few sporadic sales in a month, and one that people skim over.
Instead of simply photographing a t-shirt you’re selling, laying flat on a white background or hanging from a hanger, try adding some context.
- What is that top being worn with? Maybe it’s layered under an unbuttoned plaid shirt, worn with light-colored ripped jeans, flip-flops, and a classic gold watch.
- What type of person is wearing that top? Maybe they’re in their late 20’s, with long, sun-bleached, wavy hair, and they have a laidback style.
- What time of year are they wearing the top? If the t-shirt is from a summer line, the photo should give the feeling of summer.
- Where is that person wearing that top? Maybe they’re on a rooftop patio with a pint of beer in their hands, having a drink with friends before the sun goes down.
Your product must be a small part of the overall story.
It does require a lot more effort to set up a photoshoot that creates context rather than photographing photos in a lightbox. However, if you’re following my advice, you don’t need 101 photoshoots throughout the year. Instead, you’re:
- Planning collections and releasing collections with several products all at once, not trickling new products out as you make them (Here’s how to plan a collection)
- Limiting your product offering so you don’t have endless options (Here’s why you want to limit your selection and how sales were boosted by 27%, simply by eliminating some selection)
- Have a clear direction for your brand and who you’re selling to
Then you can plan 3 – 4 photoshoots in a year, based around when you’re launching new collections.
You may take more time to plan, set up, and photograph those collections, but you get dozens of photos to use across all your platforms (e.g. website/Etsy shop, social media, marketing material, newsletters, etc.)
AN EASIER ROUTE ON PINTEREST
If you don’t have the time to set up your own photoshoot, you can piggyback off of other people’s pins.
*IMPORTANT: You cannot take other people’s photos off of Pinterest and use them on your website or Etsy shop, that would be copyright infringement (read a bit more about copyright infringement here).
However, you can repin other people’s pins to your boards.
The pins should be in line with your brand and paint the picture you’d like to paint for your shoppers.
For example, let’s use the example from my last article and say that I’m a jewelry maker and want my bohemian-style necklaces to be found online.
Please take a look at this board as an example of what I might pin to give Pinterest users (or Google users who end up on my Pinterest board) an idea of how they might wear my necklaces.
You can clearly see which pins are product pins (*they are not my products, they’re from this Pinterest account), and which are other people’s pins.
The top several pins incorporate green and blue outfits and help a user imagine how the first two necklaces might be worn, which could be from a green and blue summer collection.
The next group of pins would be pinned around festival season when my ideal customer is likely going to Coachella and other outdoor music festivals.
And the pins at the bottom of the board would be pinned around fall, to help people imagine the type of fall outfits my necklaces might be worn with.
It’s sort of like the Trojan Horse Technique I explained here. Your promotional message is hidden in something people want (e.g. a board full of outfit ideas they can wear to Coachella).
People don’t like to be sold to, especially on Pinterest. They’re there to get ideas.
Your board gives them lots of ideas with just a few sales pitches (i.e. product photos) “hidden” within the board.
I would pin way more ideas than my example board has. For fall, I might have 100+ pins focused on fall bohemian fashion, sprinkling my fall necklace collection in.
You could also get more specific with the non-product pins, based on your ideal customer.
For example, I might picture my ideal customer as a female in her late 20’s, long brown hair, jeans and t-shirt type of girl, etc. I could get so detailed that all of the photos I pin that aren’t mine have a brunette in her late 20’s, wearing jeans, jean shorts, or a jean dress, and a basic t-shirt, tank, or sweater.
Now when someone comes to my board, they’re inspired by outfits and have a selection of necklaces that would go perfectly with them.
And I didn’t even have to set up an elaborate photo shoot.
NOW THINK OF GOOGLE
Google should always be in the back of your mind because your Pinterest pins and boards can help you get to the first page of Google quicker and easier than going at it on your own.
Keep in mind, traffic from Google tends to be a little more ready to shop. They have a pretty good idea of what they want to buy and are now looking for the best option. Your inspirational Pinterest board still comes in handy because it will immediately tell your ideal customer: you get their style, and be showcasing several of your pieces.
Pinterest is visually driven and Google relies on keywords.
>> Keywords people type into their search engine to find what they’re looking for.
>> Keywords on websites that match what people are searching for.
If you want your pins or boards to show up in Google searches and to capitalize on Google’s traffic too (they direct a lot of traffic so it’s a good idea to), then you should pay attention to the keywords you use.
The keywords you use can help you get found on Pinterest too.
Pinterest users also type keywords into the search bar and search pins, boards, and accounts with those keywords in them.
So you need to know if your ideal customer is searching.
For example, are they typing:
>> Coachella outfits
>> Bohemian Coachella outfits
>> Coachella accessories
And then create a Pinterest board using the phrase that’s most commonly searched (I’ll teach you how to uncover that information in another article), and also use those keywords in your:
- Board descriptions
- Pin titles
- Pin descriptions
I would NOT want to label my inspirational Pinterest board after my business name, such as:
Erin’s Bohemian Necklaces
Because no one is searching for that (unless my brand is really well known)
And I would not label my pins:
The Bethany Necklace
The Karen Layered Necklace
Because, again, no one is searching for that.
It may be sweet to name my necklaces after my friends, but it does not help them show up in search engines.
Use the keywords YOUR customers are using.
Emphasis on “your” because you should not be appealing to everyone; your pins must appeal to a specific customer.
Create products for a specific customer and then use the keywords they would use to describe those products, so you can ensure they find them.
Now, when they type those keywords into Google or Pinterest, your pins and boards should start to work their way to the top of searches.
PUT THE PINTEREST USER FIRST
To keep your users engaged, you must always be thinking about them.
Don’t make your Pinterest boards all about you and your products; show them the bigger picture.
There’s a big world outside of your business; how do your products work into it?
What type of boards do your customers have?
What type of content are they pinning to them?
What would catch their eye in their main feed?
Curate content your ideal customer is looking for.
The beauty of Pinterest is:
Someone does NOT need to be following your account to see your content.
The home feeds of Pinterest users has a mix of content from:
- Accounts they follow
- Accounts they DON’T follow
- Advertisers who have paid to promote their pins
Curate great content and it will be repined, clicked on, and show up in people’s feeds.
THE RIGHT RATIO
Pinterest boards should be mostly other people’s pins that help inspire people with just a few of your product pins sprinkled throughout.
A good ratio is 80/20
>> 80% other people’s content
>> 20% my content
You can have a board that is reserved for your products only and create sections within that board.
For example, if I have a jewelry business called Erin’s Bohemian Jewelry I’d create a board with that title. If I offer necklaces, rings, and earrings, I would create three sections for those subcategories of jewelry. I would only pin my products to this board.
That way, if someone stumbles upon my inspirational board with a mix of my pins and other people’s pins, notices the cohesiveness between my product photos and realizes I must sell jewelry, they can head to my Erin’s Bohemian Jewelry board and see all of my work without having to sift through hundreds of pins.
Be sure to add links to your Etsy shop or website in your Account description, board descriptions, and/or pin descriptions so it’s easy for people to shop once they’ve gotten enough inspiration, have determined what they want, and are ready to buy.
Do you have a Pinterest account or a board you’ve created to inspired people? Share a link to it in the comments or ask any questions you have regarding Pinterest 🙂
Hey, I’m Erin 🙂 I write about small business and craft show techniques I’ve learned from being a small business owner for almost 2 decades, selling at dozens of craft shows, and earning a diploma in Visual Communication Design. I hope you find my advice helpful!